Lessons of history

by Kevin Moore

The most important lesson of history is that the lessons of history are not learned.

The First World War was the first grand-scale industrial war in which millions of men and women died as a consequence of weaponry made possible by advanced chemistry. It was to have been ‘the war to end all wars.’ However, the League of Nations, established shortly after it ended, dissolved into failure in the mid-1930s and did not prevent the Second World War, in which some horrors — such as trench warfare and gas attacks — were not repeated, but new ones — such as the fire bombing of cities by aircraft, and atomic bombs — were invented. Between those wars the Roaring Twenties saw a bubble economy grow and burst, and the Great Depression saw millions of people thrown into poverty.

Thirty years of widespread upheaval and suffering seemed enough: the United Nations was established after World War Two. The U.N. was supposedly going to lead humanity into a brave new world, in which conflict would be resolved around a table. In practice there was a period of peace that lasted for five years (if we ignore the Chinese Civil War and independence movements in occupied territories), after which humanity reverted to using industrial warfare to ‘solve’ international disagreements. The Korean War marked a precedent in recent human history insofar as no peace treaty has been signed. Low-level hostilities continue to this day: it seems to be a war without end.

In Brave New World, written in 1931, Aldous Huxley suggested the world far into the future would be one of humans selectively bred in laboratories to create a peaceful, hierarchical society, consisting of a small minority of elites (alphas) living in extraordinary affluence, their lifestyle being supported by a series of lower castes (betas, gammas, deltas, and epsilons), all kept passive through the provision of ‘soma.’ There are no family relationships, and sex is a recreational activity unconnected with reproduction.

In 1984, written during 1947-8, George Orwell suggested the world much more immediately in the future would be one of a surveillance society, in which ‘ignorance is strength,’ ‘freedom is slavery’ and ‘war is peace,’ a world of declining living standards and perpetual war in which no thought or action is permissible unless sanctioned by the government. Life is generally grim for everyone except inner party members.

Both authors suggested that the majority of people do not question their condition. Of course, in order to question one’s condition, one does need a frame of reference, either to have experienced something different (a different way of living in a different time or a different place), or be aware of inconsistencies in ‘the system,’ as was the case in Orwell’s Animal Farm, in which all animals were equal but some were ‘more equal’ than others. The extent to which the modern world is a blend of Brave New World and 1984 has been the subject of a plethora of articles and essays. (If the reader is not familiar with the works it is recommended they be read at the earliest convenience).

The phenomenon of baseline shift can explain some of the failure of most people to recognise dysfunction. Consider the eastern coast of what we now call the United States. Four hundred years ago it was a largely natural habitat, exhibiting a wide range of plant and animal species, with indigenous humans living in a state of fairly stable equilibrium within that habitat, as their ancestors had done for thousands of years. The arrival of European settlers in the early 1600s seriously disturbed that equilibrium, and within two centuries numerous large towns and cities had been built. Within another century the human population had exploded, and tower blocks and skyscrapers were being constructed. In the case of Manhattan, one century later little of the land surface was not covered in concrete and asphalt.

If it were possible for someone living in that region four hundred years ago to travel through time to the present day, the transformation would be utterly shocking, and the landscape almost unrecognisable to them. However, to children born into the modern New York City environment everything looks perfectly normal, since they know no different. In other words, each generation tends to accept whatever it sees as being normal, however abnormal it is. The baseline for comparisons constantly shifts. Thus, if the population of songbirds falls by 20% per human generation, after three generations (0.8 x 0.8 x 0.8 = 0.51) it will be down to half of the starting figure, yet each generation witnesses a relatively small decline and has no experience of the population of songbirds that existed at the time their grandparents were born. Much the same argument applies to forests, frogs, fish or bees.

Humans are a remarkably adaptive species. Unfortunately that ability to adapt makes the phenomenon of baseline shift one of the most dangerous for human societies, since whatever living arrangement humans are presented with can quickly become the norm. In working-class Britain in the 1950s very few households had a telephone, televisions were a newly available novelty, very few people owned cars, and there was no such thing as a personal computer. By the 1980s telephones, televisions and cars had become commonplace, and twenty years later personal computers and cell phones were commonplace. Such is the effect of baseline shift that, at this point of time, many adolescents throughout the western world regard televisions, cell phones and personal computers as necessities, and desire to own a car at the earliest opportunity. Indeed, for some young people, to not have ready access to such items is to be ‘seriously underprivileged.’

This state of perceived entitlement is not the fault of the young people, of course. They have been misled into believing the Earth can deliver much more than it actually can by their elders, many of whom also have an unrealistic sense of entitlement, believing they are entitled to regular overseas holidays, latest model transport, and houses two or three times the size they grew up in. We might ask where notions of entitlement that are far removed from the reality of human origins, far removed from what the Earth can sustainably provide, and far removed from all spiritual teachings –- to live simply and not store up worldly possessions — have been generated. Some answers are provided in later sections of this text.

This perception of entitlement that many people living in western societies have has led some commentators to describe the age we have been living in as the Age of Entitlement. The age that follows the Age of Entitlement is the Age of Consequences. The bad news is that consequences are real, and that the Age of Consequences has already commenced. In practice there is considerable overlap, a transition phase, as one age waxes and the other wanes. Unfortunately, even as the Age of Consequences becomes ever more evident to those who are ‘awake,’ a large portion of the populace remains psychologically locked into the vanishing Age of Entitlement, believing it will go on forever. And because they have lived their entire lives in a period of technological innovation, even as the consequences of failing to live within ecological limits get worse by the day, many people continue to believe that every problem has a technological solution. It is difficult, perhaps even impossible, for them to recognise that the chief source of problems we now face is technological innovation that occurred in the past.

One important technological connection that most people living in western societies fail to make concerns their food supply: they fail to recognise that machinery which is dependent on oil is used to plough land, to plant seeds, to fertilise crops, to harvest crops, to process food, and to transport food to shops. They also fail to recognise that oil is a finite resource which will not be available for much longer. Connecting these statements, people fail to recognise that the industrial agricultural system has no long-term future. In fact it may not have even a short-term future when other factors are considered. In the film Blind Spot, emeritus Professor Albert Bartlett commented: “Modern agriculture is the use of land to convert petroleum into food. This is not high-level mathematics. This is not rocket science. This is just plain common sense. And it is universally rejected by the business community, the commercial community, [and] the political community.”

It is said that Horatio Nelson, after receiving instructions he did not wish to comply with, held a telescope to his blind eye and said: “I really do not see the signal.” It can be said, with considerable justification, that one of the defining characteristics of western societies is that most people ‘do not see the signal.’ Unlike Nelson, who went on to win many battles, western societies are in a predicament. Predicaments do not vanish if we close our eyes and ‘do not see the signals.’ They get worse.

‘If you hear a fire alarm you should ignore it and carry on with whatever you are doing. Only when the paint on the door of the room you are in starts to turn black should you begin to think about your escape plan.’ That was tongue in cheek, of course. However, studies have repeatedly demonstrated the reluctance of people to respond to alarms. Upon hearing a fire alarm, rather than taking decisive action, subjects in groups tend to seek cues from others; if others ignore the alarm, they also tend to. That is particularly so if an authority figure is present and that person ignores the alarm, or even worse, tells everyone to ignore the alarm. On the other hand, if an authority figure suggests the venue be evacuated immediately, all those present usually respond quickly.

We thus begin to understand why only a tiny minority of people in western societies have responded to numerous alarms which have been sounded by aware people on a wide range of issues over many decades: authority figures have consistently ignored the alarms, so those who look to them for guidance have ignored the alarms; the corporate media have downplayed the significance of the alarms, have lampooned them, or have not reported them at all. When we add the general observations that people believe what they want to believe, and that doing nothing is normally the easiest option, we see a recipe for disaster.

Having been transported across Europe in railway wagons, most Jews arriving at camps in Poland had their possessions and clothing taken from them. Even as they stood naked in the ‘shower’ rooms, many had little idea what would happen next. Only when the gas canisters began releasing their poison did they fully comprehend the nature of their predicament.

All the evidence indicates it will be much the same for the bulk of humanity when it comes to dealing with the major issues of our times. We now face the most testing time in all of history, for which everyone who is in a position to prepare should do so. However, it seems that only when everything they think they have has been taken away from them, only when they have lost everything they think they are entitled to, will most people realise the full extent of their predicament. It seems that only when they have lost ‘everything’ will most people living in industrialised societies fully realise the extent to which they have been lied to and misled.

The preceding essay is excerpted from The Easy Way, by Kevin Moore, published July 2011. The Easy Way is available online and via email from the author: kevin_enviro@hotmail.com.

___________

Guy McPherson’s memoir, Walking Away from Empire, is available from the publisher at this link.

Comments 150

  • Hi Kevin, I’m sure your book is a very good read.

    It does seem that the vast majority of people are going on with their habitual lives, choosing to deny that any serious problem exists, or still uncertain about whether the impending disaster is really happening.

    As you say; “rather than taking decisive action, subjects in groups tend to seek cues from others”. I don’t know what it takes for group behavior to be influenced by those individuals who do take action. I suppose instructions coming from the official leadership would be more effective but that will continue to be lacking, I think.

    As time goes on it has become increasingly clear to me that human beings are “born in captivity” on many levels, perhaps the most important being mental captivity. Without the ability to think independently, nobody can take a truly objective view of reality.

    It takes courage for any individual to break out of the comfortable confinement of culturally approved perceptions and values. To confront reality out there in the open is often a hungry, lonely and frightening experience.

    I’m a little worried about what people will choose to do when they finally recognize that the current system is crumbling around them (past feeding time and there’s nothing in the trough!). Perhaps they will try to set up crude imitations of the system they are accustomed to, rather than taking on the challenging responsibility of thinking through what has gone wrong.
    There is a valuable lesson embedded in the harsh experience we are about to go through. Unless a large number of surviving individuals are capable of radically re-assessing the basic assumptions of our civilization, humankind won’t actually learn that lesson.

  • Tamnaa.

    Yes. I was ‘born in captivity’ and did not realise the full extent of the ‘slave system’ (especially the monetary aspects) for many, many years. I still recall my father describing himself as ‘one of Britain’s slaves’ decades ago. Despite his lack of formal education he did manage to work that part out.

    In the book I wrote:

    ‘A slave in irons cannot work well and usually harbours thoughts of escape. A better kind of slave is one that has full use of his/her body, but knows that attempting to escape will incur terrible retribution and is effectively impossible. An even better kind of slave is one that is bound by ‘invisible chains’ that the slave has put on himself/herself and, thinking that ‘life is good’, does not contemplate escape. The very best kind of slave is one that has been brought up in a system of covert slavery and knows no other form of existence. Such a slave is utterly bound by ‘invisible chains’ which were imposed at the moment of birth. Knowing no other form of existence and not seeing the ‘chains’, the slave believes he/she is free. Such a slave may well unwittingly defend to the death the slave-master’s ‘right’ to own and exploit slaves.’

    The really interesting thing is that few of the thoughts we now have are original. Almost everything we think or say has been thought or said before, often long ago.

    One of the major themes of the book, apart from presenting factual evidence relating to the true state of the Earth, is that repeated warnings given over many decades have been ignored. We I am living (NZ) are suffering from ‘Easter Island syndrome’, squandering the last of precious resources on trivia and infrastructure that will have no utility a few years from now.

    I note in TEW is that many people are unreachable. I meet people almost every day who say: “I’m alright, thanks” or “I don’t need it.” They have no idea how not alright they are and how much they need to wake up. One needs to be very philosophical about at this late stage in the game and leave them to it.

    Also, it has been my experience over many years that those who know the least tend to ague the most. We have to accept that people have the right to be architects of their own demise.

    What concerns me is that the ‘ignorant masses’ will take down the informed and prepared with them, rather like a mass of drowning people swamping lifeboats when a ship goes down because there were not enough lifeboats.

  • Quite a rapier’s thrust, Mr. Moore. I wish you were wrong: but I guess even you wish the same.

  • Kevin, as a member of the choir, I agree with you wholeheartedly. 🙂

    As of late, I’ve been wondering about the wisdom of “sounding the alarm”. Pretty much everyone who comments on this site agrees that there will be a massive die-off of humanity at some point in the not-too-distant future. In fact, most of us agree that the bulk of humankind’s problems are the result of there being way too many of us. That being case, what’s the incentive for wanting to warn others? If the only solution for any of us is for there to be far fewer of us, wouldn’t it be better to just sit quietly and let the rest race off the edge of the cliff? We all know that there’s no way that we could possibly save the overwhelming majority of our overshot species. So why bother?

    I don’t have an answer for my question, but it’s something that’s been on my mind lately. Mind you, I’m very grateful that at least someone was spreading the word, otherwise, I wouldn’t have heard and started making my meager preparations.

  • “What concerns me is that the ‘ignorant masses’ will take down the informed and prepared with them,…”

    Yes, many people express this concern and I believe it is a realistic one.

    Those who had the foresight to prepare are valuable potential teachers but they might indeed be killed by the clueless hungry rabble eager to take what they have, but unable to learn from them.

    “…many people are unreachable.” Yes, including, in my case, my own grown kids who basically don’t want to hear the Old Man’s nonsense any more. I have learned to shut up.

  • Kevin:

    Devastating statement. You can not save someone who doesn’t want to be saved. I stopped offering rescues ages ago.

    I was recently asked a question concerning my position as an atheist.
    Before I could respond, the questioner made a confused dogmatic statement, finishing with, “End of Discussion.” The fear of thinking about anything so different than what he was taught, was more than he could stand. He was trembling with fear.

    TRDH:

    I think we were all convinced of the outcome before coming to NBL. As I have mention before, I have been waiting since 1987. I can even remember the early warnings since the publication of “The Population Bomb”, in 1968.

    We all like to think we are not alone or crazy. We are not sounding the alarm to warn those in denial or opposition, but to help each other by sharing thoughts on what we think might help in dealing with the coming debacle. Also this is a way of drawing out other already like minded people. I don’t think we will have an impact on the uninformed herd.

  • Kevin, I note that you are a chemist so I’m assuming your book deals, in part, with the role science has played in bringing the world to this ominous threshold. If that is so, can you give us a hint about your feelings and opinions on science?

  • Science is a tool, and like other tools, can be used for purposes good and evil. A shovel can be used to help a neighbor irrigate his fields, or to dig a hole with the intent of having him fall in it.

  • Tamnaa.

    In TEW I point out that pro-humans began using using sticks and stones as weapons and tools so long ago we cannot accurately assess when. Using sticks and stones to perform functions the body was unable to preform amounted to the invention of technology, particularly once humans began altering the sticks and stones to perform particular predetermined functions.

    I try to distinguish between science and technology. Science is essentially concerned with understanding and explaining the natural world. Technology tends to be concerned with altering the natural world, usually for a particular purpose.

    In practice, technological innovation permited better scientific understanding, and better scientific understanding led to technological innovation. Everything is connected.

    One of the major points I make in TEW is the myth of progress, particularly that which occured after the invention of steam pumps to remove water from mines, because that ‘progress’ put humanity on a grand-scale collision course with nature.

    ‘What kind of progress converts ordinary people into [fractional reserve banking] debt slaves, and at the same time takes away their energy independence, so they become utterly dependent on unseen ‘energy slaves’? And what would happen if the fractional reserve banking system were to fail and the ‘energy slaves’ were to stop working, not just for a few hours, but permanently?’

    As most people who frequent NBL realise, humanity is in a self-made trap which has been constructed on the back of technology. It can be argued that the natural world was doomed the moment humans figured out how to bind stones to sticks and put nooses around animals. It can also be argued that the discovery of how to extract copper and tin from ores was the crucial step that put us on course for the catastrophe we are now witnessing.

    Much of that is debatable. The crucial points I try to make in TEW are the matter of ‘energy slaves’, and the matter of how money-lenders and corporations managed to hijack most societies.

    As we all know, the combination of science and inappropriate technology led to the population explosion, another major factor in our predicament. And the entire system most people are now dependent on is totally unsustainable, even for another couplke of decades.

    The best answer is ‘read the book’, of course. These short extracts may help clarify my thoughts.

    ‘Could it be that by taking the path that was superficially the easy way our ancestors put us on track to learn some very important lessons the hard way? As with those who adopted agriculture, those who leaped into the industrial age could not have foreseen the course they would put humanity on, however hard they looked.’

    ‘The Green Revolution promised to rid the world of hunger forever. Norman Borlaug, described as father of it, was undoubtedly very sincere in his work. However, his efforts were to ultimately result in severe unintended consequences: more people are now undernourished or starving than when he started working on the problem. The ramping up of the use of phosphates resulted in places such as Nauru being stripped of phosphate rock: what was left resembled a moonscape. The last major unexploited reserves of easily extractable phosphate lie in North Africa, where, as several commentators have noted, ’they don’t like us [westerners] very much’. Pumping water from ancient aquifers led to lowering of water tables, and led to a higher requirement of irrigation. The water-depleted Colorado River delta is an ecological disaster zone. And plant breeding morphed into genetic engineering, the full consequences of which are yet to be revealed. Recognition of the inevitability of unintended consequences led to the coining of the aphorism: the chief source of problems is solutions.’

    The irony is, one has to have studied chemistry, physics, biology, geology, climatology etc. to a fairly advanced level (made possible by technology) to appreciate that the chief source of problems is [technological] solutions.

  • Kevin

    Excellent essay, and a spot-on analysis of our condition – I say this because you and I agree…. 😉 William Catton (my hero on the pedestal next to Albert Bartlett) details several traits of organisms in general that he believes have contributed to our situation today (population overshoot/technology-dependency):

    1. Organisms tend to exploit niches to which they are adapted whenever and wherever such niches become available to them. In short, life is opportunistic.

    2. Natural selection happens when in response to the present availability of niches in a given environment, without regard for their possible future availability.

    3. Organic prescience is typically very limited – organisms typically do not foresee future environmental conditions. Living things adapt to what is, not to unforeseen future circumstances. If those are drastically different, the obsolescence of today’s successful adaptations may then prove fatal.

    Catton believes that humanity is not immune from these quite natural characteristics. Being opportunistic creatures, we have exploited our niches to the maximum possible, failing to exercise the proper organic prescience, which has led to our imminent destruction (massive reduction in population) as a species.

    Though we had the mental capability to change and plan around the above characteristics of all other organisms, we being like all other organisms, did not, and indeed, continue as a species to maintain our niches to our ultimate failure.

    We have yet to experience our Wile E. Coyote moment, and by the time we do (IF we do), we will see that the only solutions to our problem lay in the distant and irretrievable past. As you say, our problem lies in our solution.

  • All you ever needed to know about 9/11 in five minutes…. 😉

  • Kevin: Excellent, thank you.

  • Kevin, excellent.
    You wrote [Humans are a remarkably adaptive species. Unfortunately that ability to adapt makes the phenomenon of baseline shift one of the most dangerous for human societies, since whatever living arrangement humans are presented with can quickly become the norm]

    Back ins spill days someone posted on the Oil Drum that given that the Gulf is referred to as a Dead Zone how could there be any fish to kill with the spill. I found that someone had done a study of son, father and grandfather perceptions of the normal number of fish in the gulf. Quickly each generation had thought normal what what they now saw. What the younger generation didn’t realize is that their new normal was a Dead Zone compared to their grandfather’s normal. That study reinforces what you say about dangerous baseline shifts.

  • [Four hundred years ago it was a largely natural habitat, exhibiting a wide range of plant and animal species, with indigenous humans living in a state of fairly stable equilibrium within that habitat, as their ancestors had done for thousands of years.]
    Commentary on this by Buffy St. Marie http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FKKX-H3NMNI My Country Tis of Thy People You’re Dying

  • Those who wake up, are intelligent enough to realize what is happening and have the guts to do what is necessary, might survive. Those who have been captivated by one of MANY available addictions/ distractions, and some who just aren’t smart enough to know they are at risk and/or are not humble enough to listen to those who do, probably won’t.
    THAT is how the population of this planet will be greatly reduced. Call it natural selection or manifest destiny, either way, humanity is about to see a quantum shift in “the baseline.”
    As one of my favorite old noncoms in the Navy used to say: “It’s as simple as that lad.”
    Think the moral of the story re: Noah’s ark!

  • Contrary Man you wrote {Those who wake up, are intelligent enough to realize what is happening and have the guts to do what is necessary, might survive.}

    No one survives. We are mortal. Some survive longer than others and then they too die. It helps I think to remind ourselves of this obvious fact.

  • Victor, excellent vid, especially if you have done research over the years on 9/11. We watched it twice.

  • Kevin, you said, “Such a slave may well unwittingly defend to the death the slave-master’s ‘right’ to own and exploit slaves.”

    I always think this when I see people (for instance in Greece) rioting and demanding the government provide/create more jobs. My perception has been that they are running in the streets, demanding that their masters provide a means for their enslavement. Strange times.

  • Victor: Thanks for the SLYT 9/11: A Conspiracy Theory. I came across it a day or two ago & posted it to Facebook, but this time I watched it again and forwarded it to my email BCC list.

    Kathy C: thanks for the link to “My country ‘Tis Of Thy People You’re Dying”: deeply moving, watched several times and followeed the lyrics through a Google link.

    Here is a link without video but winh better audio:

    Buffy Sainte Maire – “My country ‘Tis Of Thy People You’re Dying”

  • In promoting this book I have come up against the kind of resistance to truth we have discussed on many occasions on NBL (the kind of resistance to truth displayed year after year in connection with 9/11). I have included in TEW almost every argument and every psychological ploy used to reject truth and reality I have heard over the past 30 years.

    The image on the front cover of the young woman reading a book does seem to help oversome some of the resistance people tend to put up.

    And on the back cover it says:

    ‘There are two ways to do most things in life –the easy way and the hard way.

    People often choose the hard way.

    There are two ways to discover how ‘the system’ works and what the future holds -the easy way and the hard way.

    Some will choose the easy way.’

    Sadly, depsite all that, most people will choose the hard way.

    It will be interesting to see whether there is any increase in visitor numbers to NBL, since I make several references to Guy and to NBL in the book (of course).

    I’m not holding my breath on any of this stuff, since doing very little (mentally and physically) is a major component of the easy way of life that people living in western societies are enjoying during this brief aberration in the course of human history, along with remaining ignorant of the facts.

  • I first heard of the population explosion back in the 1970s. My mother took my sister and me to a talk by Paul Ehrlich. I experienced the first oil shock in the early 70s with people queuing up at the petrol stations. I read Global 2000 in the early 80s and was horrified by what was happening to the world … and then I got on with life. Making money to survive, raising a family, creating a home. It wasn’t until 2007 that I again was receptive to the alarm bells. By then I was on the farm, had given away the corporate world and had cut my ties with Business as Usual. It is much easier to hear alarm bells to evacuate the building if you are on the ground floor heading out anyway.

  • That 9/11 video clip I first saw on Max Keiser’s site. Fantastic! What’s more, I managed to persuade my husband and son to look at it. My son immediately posted it to Facebook so his friends could see it, and my husband murmured “Food for thought.” Normally, he believes everything the media feeds out about “those evil terrorists”.

  • Kevin, you say; “Science is essentially concerned with understanding and explaining the natural world.”
    Right, and science confines it’s investigations to the “empirical realm” i.e. that portion of reality which is apparent to our senses (or can be rendered apparent using technological devices).

    This becomes a serious problem when zealots make the irrational leap to “scientific materialism” and what Fritz Schumacher (among others) called “scientism”. These belief systems would have us accept that the empirical universe constitutes 100% of reality and that science provides the only valid method for discovering truth.

    To me, attitudes such as these amount to a sort of “faith” not unlike religious faith and the practice of science has come to resemble priest-craft. Like the priest-classes of history they work hand-in-hand with the warriors and the wealthy to establish themselves as authority figures near the top of the social pyramid.

    So, scientists have been very clever at finding various powerful ways to alter the natural world, but have failed miserably to assess whether or not it was wise to do so.

  • Curtis A. I’ve run into that “end of discussion!” reaction too, both when questioning believers in some sort of theism or when questioning believers in scientism about the philosophical underpinnings of science. Ha! I just thought of another one; free market capitalists. I think that one is a “faith” as well.

    People do tend to cling to their chosen world-views with white knuckle fear rather than enter the unknown waters of authentic reason.

  • Right, and science confines it’s investigations to the “empirical realm” i.e. that portion of reality which is apparent to our senses (or can be rendered apparent using technological devices).

    The term pramana found in Hinduism & Buddhism may help to elucidate the reality that one perceives.

    Pramana (sources of knowledge, Sanskrit) is an extant word in the Indian languages, and in Bengali it alss means “proof” or “evidence”.

    The first sourte of knowledge is not the senses: it is objectless awareness. From this follows a lesser form of awareness, “I am” with its corollary, “Not I”. Neither “I am” nor “Not I” are the origin of awareness. However they are both necessary for categorizing “reality”.

    The senses feed raw data that in itself is quite uninterpretable by awareness. This is evident in those who have been blind from birth due to a correctable defect (congenital cataract) who have their vision restored by surgery: At first they see a maze of colors and shapes that make no sense to them.

    It is only by continued exposure to these raw data inputs that they begin to categorize the shapes and colors into forms that they associate with their senses of touch, hearing, smell and taste, thus beginning to “see” as others do. Since most of us have gone through that period of categorization in the earliest of infancy, we take for granted “normal” seeing, and have no perception of what the raw inputs from the sense of sight are like in the absence of such categorization.

    Once the categorization of raw data into objects is accomplished, further levels of categorization lead to recognition of beauty, apprehension, desire, etc. Our entire reality is based on multiple such levels of categorization. The use of simple instruments such as a microscope or a telescope extends our awareness of reality, as do more comulex scientific instruments.

    Science is a systematic extension of our awareness of what we call “reality” through methods that entail the use of such adjuncts. To acknowledge the reality thus perceived is rational, but to attirbute a primacy to any part of reality in the perceived scheme of things is to lose track of the hierarchy of pramanas that lead to science (or for that matter, religion) in the first place.

    That is why Buddhism avers that all entities have no abstract essence (the Second Feature of Existence, “Sabbe dhamma anatta”), a concept also intrinsic to non-dual Vedanta of Hinduism.

  • excellent, thought provoking essay, kevin. how big is this book u’ve written? (i haven’t yet read any comments, so excuse any repeat questions) i definitely want to read it. perhaps i’ll ‘order’ a batch for delivery, try to find a few worthy recipients to give a copy to. i don’t have a credit card, which sometimes makes internet transactions impossible. perhaps i can send u a check?

    the surreal problem is a lack of worthy recipients. i know a lot of sheople i’d love to enlighten, but unfortunately they’re ‘dogma addicts’, impervious to fact and reason. might just as well give a chimpanzee a copy of your book for all the good it would do. are u familiar with the saying ‘u can lead a horse to water, but u can’t make him drink.’?

    what u say in the last paragraph about entitlement i fear applies to me. plus despair and alienation, resulting in fatalism. resignation. denial. i’m taking the easy way, hoping i’ll be gone before the surreally awful consequences surround me. since for the most part collapse isn’t too bad yet in my part of the world, and popular culture is so delusional and distracting, the easy way is an easy trap to fall into. it’s hard to go completely against the grain.

  • Some insight into the state of the masses:

    Donut seed

  • Tamnaa [So, scientists have been very clever at finding various powerful ways to alter the natural world, but have failed miserably to assess whether or not it was wise to do so.] Well put. Perhaps we are like a small child who learns to open jars before they learn to discern that not all things in jars should be ingested.

    Robin, the song by Buffy St. Marie is powerful. While the version you posted is far better audio, it was taped for an album later in her career. The one I posted was recorded on an old TV show run by Pete Seeger. Clearly she was at the very start of her career. While it is scratchy, the emotion in her singing is raw and powerful rather than smoother and more melodic and hits me stronger. It helps me understand what it must feel like to grow up Native American in our self congratulatory conquest based nation.

  • the virgin terry

    140 pages: it’s very dense but is easy to read, and is very thought-provoking according to those who have reported back to me. Reviews are on the PublishMe website.

    http://www.publishme.co.nz/shop/theeasyway-p-684.html

    email me at kevin_enviro@hotmail.com and we can discuss it further if you wish.

  • Tamnaa.

    ‘To me, attitudes such as these amount to a sort of “faith” not unlike religious faith and the practice of science has come to resemble priest-craft.’

    I really cannot go along with that. Religions tend to be centred around faith that particular beliefs are correct, e.g. that Jesus died on a cross and was resurrecte or that the world sits on the back of a turtle whereas true scientists will immediately abandon beliefs if evidence demostrates they are incorrect.

    In TEW I do discuss the ‘religion’ of ‘industrial fundamentalism’, or interpreting it a different way ‘industrial disease’, which has the capacity to take over the mind.

    Norman Bourlag is a classic example of a scientist who thought he was doing great things for humanity by tackling the ‘problem’ of malnutrition/starvation. Despite being honoured for his work, all he ultimately succeeded in doing was increasing the number of people suffering from malnutrition/starvation.

    Many substances we now may regard as terrible were discovered by accident…. people experimenting with all kinds of combinations just to see what happened. TNT would be a good example. It has enabled people to blow holes in the Earth and blow up one another. But people adding a mixture of nitric acid and sulphuric acid to substances often did not know what they were making until that had made it and analysed it.

    David Suzuki would be a good person to ask about the ethics of pushing the boundaries.

  • Kevin,

    I really enjoyed your article, by the way.

    What I can’t fully agree with is the statement in your last post, “true scientists will immediately abandon beliefs if evidence demonstrates they are incorrect”. That is what they should do, that is what they have been taught to do, (i.e. an hypothesis can never be proven, it can only be disproven), however, in my experience there are a large number of scientists who are as entrenched in the current paradigm as any lay person.

    Quote by Max Planck “A new scientific truth does not triumph by convincing opponents and making them see the light, but rather because its opponents eventually die, and a new generation grows up that is familiar with it. ”

    I find I am constantly confronted with the blinkered view of soil scientists. I had one such scientist tell me that it is impossible to increase top soil in Australia as Australia is such an old continent and we have such poor soil. I said “Look at the evidence. Look at what regenerative farmers have been doing. They have been increasing top soil. How can you then say it is impossible? His veiled response was that I didn’t understand soil science so I couldn’t possibly understand what he was saying. Just for the records I have both a science and engineering degree. I have also studied soil science if not to his level. His education made him blinkered. He knew too much about too little.

    I guess it all hinges on the definition of “true” scientist!

  • whereas true scientists will immediately abandon beliefs if evidence demostrates they are incorrect.

    Scientists being, above all, people, I seriously doubt this statement. Most scientists I know are as close-minded as any religious fanatic, and indeed, look to the comfort of peer support in all challenges to their beliefs. They will only change their minds grudgingly if their peers do first. This is neither good nor bad, but simply reflects the reality that scientists are human and have human frailties.

  • Nicole

    I replied before I read yours….much better stated than mine… 🙂

  • Kevin: Scientific Materialism is faith in the belief that the empirical universe is all there is to reality. A true scientist would agree that there is no evidence for this belief but practicing scientists seem to be steeped in the doctrine (dogma?) that nothing exists outside the scope of scientific investigation. This is called positivism and it’s a thoroughly self- refuting position but unfortunately, science is no longer grounded in philosophy.

    Imagine you and I sitting outside on a clear night and you mention that the moon is very bright tonight. If my answer is; “Kevin I don’t believe that the moon exists” you might say something like; “Nonsense, you can see it right over there in the sky.
    If I then say, “No, I don’t look over there, I only look in this direction and I see no evidence for this ‘moon’ you talk about.”
    Am I right?
    This is what science does, it refuses to admit the existence of anything outside the narrow scope of its limited field i.e. the empirically knowable universe.

    That’s why science cannot grasp beauty, for example, or love (beyond biological mating lust) or even inner peace, for that matter. Science proposes that we are automatons wholly directed by our genes and utterly fails to comprehend the mysteries of consciousness.

    That’s why science, as Robin rightly said, is only a tool which can be used for good or evil purposes. Scientists, too, allow themselves to be “tools” by making their knowledge and methods available for any purpose
    (agent orange springs to mind) presumably because science itself is devoid of any means determining values.

    “David Suzuki would be a good person to ask about the ethics of pushing the boundaries.” Okay, or perhaps Mme Curie, on her death bed, might also have had something to say.

    Nicole, I think your story is a perfect illustration of how an education in science these days so often creates an indoctrinated mind unwilling to look at evidence contrary to the what it has been told.

    Kathy C, correct, just because something can be done doesn’t mean its a good idea to do it and that extends to; just because someone pays you to do something….

    I think theistic faith is comparable to a child’s view with its dependence on all powerful parents (gods) who must be appeased by good behavior etc. to avoid punishment and to gain reward.

    Materialistic faith is more like an adolescent, shrugging off parental authority and itching to get his hands on the controls of the machinery without any clear notion of what it is actually for.

    Since the adolescent is about to crash the machine, it’s now time for humanity to grow up, learn from past mistakes, and move toward responsible adulthood. It will be a new stage which we really haven’t experienced yet.

    It was a wild ride, fun I guess, but it achieved little of any lasting value. It will take some time to pick up the pieces.

  • Robin:

    Thank you, hilarious!

  • Robin:

    My son just posted “Donut Seed” to Facebook. He has a large following.

  • Robin

    Great vid. I just added donuts to my little garden!

  • Totally off topic. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EbRc1BhXjvA Hitler knows what Nano-Thermite in the WTC dust means

  • Kathy C:

    I am still going through the comments, but there are some great lines in there. I wish I had said them.

    This is a keeper article because of the comments.

  • Robin,

    You mentioned mutualism and a book length discussion in your comment ion a previous post. David Graeber touches upon this and related issues in his latest book Debt: The First 5000 years.

  • Very funny vid, Kathy. I linked from there to another on WTC 7 showing it from a slightly different angle than has been shown before, and showing definite explosions all along the exposed side of the building, top to bottom.

    Funny enough, this vid is a highly edited version of another (possibly one from the FBI files?) that was posted previously to support the official version…here it is

    It is worth reading some of the comments..they tear this fellow apart.

  • Curtis, I just glanced through that story and haven’t read the comments yet. My eye was caught by the explanation given about the hole in the Pentagon. It amazes me how different the structure of airplane wings must be. Some disintegrate on contact with the ground such that no whole pieces can be found on the amazing Penta-lawn that resists all damage. Other airplane wings cut neat wing shape holes in the side of the north tower right through structural steel. (anyone not familiar can google “Penta-lawn” and under images “north tower airplane shaped hole”)

    But of course it matters not a whit anymore because we already lost Habeaus Corpus, 1 million or more Iraqis and Afgans already lost their lives, over 7000 US and NATO troops have died and its all coming down soon anyway. We will soon forget all about the big lie that heralded the last great oil grab. But oh sometimes I can’t resist dabbling a bit in the irrational things dredged up to prove the conspiracy theory, the government conspiracy theory that is.

  • Karhy:

    Yes, the hole in the Pentagon gets a lot of discussion.

    Lots of stuff just waiting to end. Too bad the NFL got going again. Sundays would have been interesting without it.
    Sure hope the NBA stuffs it for the season.
    Obummer is just a place holder to keep people quiet until it all falls apart.
    Just wondering where the rats will run to as it crumbles.

  • Nicole.

    I took on the University of Auckland a number of years ago because [so-called] Professor Chris de Freitas of the [so-called] environment school was preaching that there was no link between climate change and CO2 emissions, and that NZ should exploit its coal depostis to the maximum. The response of the Vice Chancellor’s Office was that Chris de Feitas could teach what he liked because he had ‘academic freedom’.

    I asked the chemistry department of the same university for a statement on CO2 emissions and climate change: there was no repsonse whatsoever.

    I asked the head of the geology department for some views on peak oil. He told me the department did not teach oil geology and that it came under engineering. I tracked down the head of resources at the engineering department, and told he me that he had ‘no comment’ on peak oil.

    I would personally give the University of Auckalnd a big FAIL mark on all the issues that actually matter, yet this institution is supposedly rated very highly because it churns out the right kind of ‘slaves’.

    What is all seems to amount to is that a kot of true science has been distorted or muzzled by administrators because so many educational institutions are now dependent on corporations for funding. And I suspect central government is pulling a lot of strings on behalf od the international banking cartels and multinational corporations.

    Dr Jim Hansen tells how officialdom went to great lengths to silence him when he spoke about the link between CO2 and the prospect of Abrupt Climate Change.

    Guy McPherson is also an expert on the politics of academia and the suppression of truth.

    The soil scientist you mentioned undoubtedly has a huge vested interest in promoting orthodoxy (something else I focus on in TEW).

    The fact is, western societies are riddled with corruption and manipulation.

    Tamnaa.

    Your argument with respect to the Moon is specious. A true scientist would not cite lack of immediate evidence as proof of non-existence. A true scientist would ask: have we looked in the right place (everywhere) for evidence of this object/phenomenon? Are we looking in the right place now, and are using the right tools?

    There are plenty of people who call themselves scientists because they have a qualification is a scientific field and ar able to promulgate some portion of the accumulated knowledge of science, yet they do not have the flexibility to change their opinions in the face of contrary evidence, and many are not even familiar with recent findings.

    Overwork, laziness, pride and social acceptability etc. may be factors that stymie the promulgation of truth. I lay a great portion of the repsonsibility for the mess we are in at the feet of money-lenders and their Ponzi scheme; they which cannot abide the truth.

    The first thing I say in TEW is that the book is dedicated to truth. Indeed, the first line is ‘This book is dedicated to truth.’ And towards the end I invite readers to advise me if any statements in TEW are incorrect, so that I may amend them.

  • Kevin, a few years ago I was having a conversation with one of the non-tenured “professors” of Biology at our local university. I was floored when she told me that there was no real evidence to support evolution and that God had created the world 6,000 years ago. When I asked her to explain how it is that we routinely find fossils that are millions of years old, her response was “God created them that way in order to confuse people who were unwilling to believe his word.” When I then asked her how she handled evolution when it’s covered in the textbook, she stated that she just skips that part.

    I support academic freedom and the right to teach alternative ideas, but I think there should be at least some modicum of truth or even feasibility to them. Of course, she still teaches at the school because her husband is a tenured professor in the same department and the administration doesn’t want to cause problems.

  • Kevin, that’s right, “A true scientist would not cite lack of immediate evidence as proof of non-existence” As I said; “A true scientist would agree that there is no evidence for this belief (scientific materialism)” So, I’m not talking about true scientists, wherever they may be, but rather science as we find it practiced by actual people.

    Richard Dawkins is a good example of an all-too-prominent scientist who routinely and publicly cites lack of evidence as a refutation of theism. Although I’m not a big believer in Jahweh or Zeus or Vishnu myself, I am a fan of honest reasoning. It’s clear to me that crusaders like Dawkins are dishonest when they demand empirical evidence for something that is clearly outside the sensory realm. Christians might use the same tactic by claiming to refute evolution by saying there is no mention of it in their bible!
    The deeper agenda of scientists of this ilk, (I admit, they are not true scientists) is to set science up as the only authoritative arbiter of truth. Because it restricts itself to the outward, physical manifestation of reality, it cannot gain understanding of the inner realm of consciousness. This is precisely the essential understanding we need to transform the relationship between humanity and this planet.

    While there is no value in returning to the the childhood phase of theistic beliefs, the brash and powerful adolescent stage of materialist beliefs lacks sound judgement and cannot provide direction either.
    The human species must mature beyond these faulty responses to life or it will quite likely perish.

  • The trend in “higher” education to increasingly narrow one’s focus makes one susceptible to entering a pigeonhole in which there is no turning around or exit. And everyone is a product of one’s environment, a powerful influence in shaping one’s behaviour. The “true” scientist is an ideal, like the ideal gas or the black body (of physics). While there may be a few approximations to the ideal, they tend to be few and far between.

    The idea that fossils in their correct evolutionary progression were created de novo in their appropriate strata of sedimentary rock by The Good Lord with the intention of presenting a coherent story is an idea that was floated by creationists shortly after Darwin. The modern-day professor (of Creation Science) was merely parroting an old theme. 

  • Kathy,
    Took me a while to get the Nano-Thermite piece because the spoken words weren’t the same as the sub-titles. Once I stopped listening and just read (second time through) and watched, it was very good.

    Robin,
    Donuts! Yup, got to go out and start growing some. I might even be able to convince some non-gardening friends to get started.

    Kevin,
    Sounds as if you have experienced as much disappointment with modern science as I have. I agree with Victor in that scientists are above all people so you have the typical pressures of peer pressure with the need to conform and accept the opinion of authority figures – the same reasons as why so many people throughout the world fail to see the writing on the wall re collapse of civilisation etc.

    However, the introduction of commercial funding has made it a whole lot worse. There was a brilliant bit of research going on (looking for ways to combat parasitic nematodes with soil fungi). I spoke to the lead scientist and asked him how his research was going. It had stopped. Funding had run out and he had only managed to secure more funding by researching a chemical means of combating the nematodes. Some scientists don’t care, some grit their teeth and take the funding on offer, and some, like me, leave academia because they can’t stand it.

  • Richard Dawkins is a good example of an all-too-prominent scientist who routinely and publicly cites lack of evidence as a refutation of theism. Although I’m not a big believer in Jahweh or Zeus or Vishnu myself, I am a fan of honest reasoning. It’s clear to me that crusaders like Dawkins are dishonest when they demand empirical evidence for something that is clearly outside the sensory realm. Christians might use the same tactic by claiming to refute evolution by saying there is no mention of it in their bible!

    Tamnaa (an intriguing name – what are its origins?)

    I wholly agree. Indeed, in my opinion a true scientist would accept the possibility that there might be a creator (I won’t say god as that has definite religious connotations), recognising the fact that until it is proven one way or the other that there was or was not a creator in the beginning, the true seeker of truth will abstain from judgement. As it is, there is no empirical, observable proof that there exists a creator, nor is there empirical, observable proof that there exists a process called materialistic evolution that explains the origin of life as we know it. In either case, creator or materialistic evolution, the acceptance of such a tenet lies ultimately within the realm of faith, not science. It is interesting that the those who advocate a creator accept that they are exercising faith. Unfortunately, the same can’t be said for those who advocate evolution.

    Those supporting both sides of the argument can use scientific findings to support their respective world-views (and each really IS a world-view), but neither can irrefutably and scientifically prove their positions.

    In my opinion the hard core evolutionist sounds just like the religious evangelist – there remains no question of truth, all has been proven to the extent it needs to be, and all that is important to explain can be explained through evolution. This is patently untrue, which puts 99% of the current crop of scientists and those who depend upon the scientific community for the views in their respective professional communities firmly in the camp of the faithful, not the scientific.

  • Dr. House,

    The issues of creation and age of the earth (universe) are entirely different areas of concern – neither supports the other. Just because one believes that there was a creator does not force them to accept a young earth by any means, nor should an evolutionist assume that one who supports the creator position believes in a young earth by default. That is a mistake in logic, and a common one.

  • Hi Victor, “In my opinion the hard core evolutionist sounds just like the religious evangelist” … yes, well said. There seems to be a proselytizing effort going on, perhaps to do with shifts in academic power, I don’t know.
    Personally, I feel that the evolution model fits better than those based on theistic scriptures, but only when confining oneself to observing the outer, objective universe. Investigating the inner realm of consciousness, though, opens one up to the possibility of experiencing a whole new depth of reality.

    Seems to me the faulty logic that Dawkins, Dennet, et al try to foist on the unsuspecting public goes something like this:

    We will examine two ideas, A (creationism) and B (evolution) which are mutually exclusive.

    Idea A does not satisfy the rules and methods by which idea B was formulated so idea A is found to be untrue.

    It therefor follows that idea B is found to express complete truth and that only those rules and methods used to formulate it are valid.

    Of course this is wrong and, I think, dishonest. A and B can both be false. Many ways to discover truth may be valid.

    I only found out about how popular these celebrity atheists had become when my kids were in university and started quoting their “hard core evolutionist” ideas.

  • Victor, for those who believe the Bible is literally true the creation and the age of the earth are are not separate issues. The read the creation story and God is the actor. They add up the generations recorded and come up with 6,000 years. Dr. House was reporting what a rather large number of Christians believe based on the Bible as being the one true source of information about the world. Of course in fact they do not actually believe the Bible is literal, but rather believe it is accurate when it seems to be an historical account. If they believed it was literally true they would know that that failure to attend to the food, housing needs etc of their neighbors was the criteria would cause Jesus to say “I never knew you”. But they can read God created, and they can read can pile up begats and know just when he created. Logic is irrelevant to them. They don’t think logic has any place in faith.

    OTOH logic would it seems cause any thinking person to determine that if there is a powerful creator god who acts in the lives of men, that god must be evil based on the evidence in the world. A powerful god who acts in the world would not allow infants who have not proven themselves “good or bad” to be raped, tortured, starved, hit with Napalm etc. Thus since these things clearly happen, god is either impotent or chooses not to act. A god with the power to create that sits back and lets the evil go on is an evil god. A god who chooses to act occasionally is an evil god.

    My neighbor told me recently that God had spared our town when the tornadoes struck AL because people in our town prayed. I asked her if none of the people in Tuscaloosa prayed. Quickly (these folks are good a defending god) she said “maybe they didn’t have time to pray”. Another woman announced that our county had been spared because 6 years ago our county set up an annual Day of Prayer. What a strange god they worship.

    The hypothesis that it all began with some “creator” is no help at all in fathoming how all this came to be. Who created the “creator”. Logical thinking people would just say we do not know the first cause. What is gained by guessing that the first cause is a being?

  • Out of the news but not over yet
    Massive New Radiation Releases Possible from Fukushima … Especially If Melted Core Materials Hit Water
    http://www.washingtonsblog.com/2011/09/massive-new-radiation-releases-possible-from-fukushima-especially-if-melted-core-materials-hit-water.html

  • Kathy,

    If you read what I said you will find that I simply refute the idea that if you believe there is a creator, you do not HAVE to believe in a young earth. I might also have said that it does not necessarily imply that people who believe in a creator also believe in a literal interpretation of the Bible. Nonetheless, the common charge levelled against many folks who believe there was a creator at work is that they also must, therefore, believe in a 6000 yr-old earth. This is not true. Many do, but many do not, and many are in-between. So what? It makes for interesting discussion. But it shouldn’t make for violent dogmatic trench digging.

    As to your continued point about how evil any god must be to have a part in a world such as this, I must say that your point is irrelevant to my argument. Either there was a creator at work, or there wasn’t. Whether he was good or evil or neutral is not at issue with that statement. I have my own feelings about that, but they are my own, and they are quite rightfully and admittedly based upon faith. I’ll leave you to wrestle with your Christian friends over the rest.

    As to your point about first cause, I might say that, whether you like to admit it or not, this is an important point to most everyone, even the hardest core atheistic evolutionist. But the real point to me is that from a scientific, empirical view, we simply do not know first cause. The atheist cannot accept that there was a god who always existed. The theist cannot accept that something came from nothing, or alternatively, something outside of a god always existed. But whether either camp can accept it or not, the point remains – you cannot prove it one way or the other – it is frankly beyond our human ability to comprehend the infinite.

    But having said that, it is absolutely vital to both evangelistic parties to take a stand on it, because first cause essentially sets the precedent for all that follows in their respective models. And this leads to my point that both the atheistic, mechanistic, materialistic evolution model and the creator-design model are just that – models – and only models – incapable of proof. In my opinion to suggest otherwise is to be unscientific at best and at worst, guilty of dogmatism.

    And to those who suggest that a belief in a creator, and thus a designed universe, is unscientific, I might pose the question. If we cannot know that there exists a creator, then how can we scientifically justify taking that creator completely out of the picture when studying the world and its history? Is it not reasonable to take a more scientific approach by formulating alternative models in which to fit the data? Why must we be so dogmatic about it?

    And whilst we are at it, why are origins so completely important? Why are we so hung up on that? Could it be because in our hearts, in the deepest places, we fear there IS no god? Or just as unsettling, there IS one?

  • Victor, sorry, I forgot to answer your question about “Tamnaa”. I’m in Thailand and tam naa is Thai language meaning roughly; “cultivating” or “work field”. I didn’t get much of that done today. Perhaps I should have chosen the Thai word for procrastination instead.

    Kathy C, Agree! I can’t say with any authority that the god I read about in the old testament actually exists or not but, now that I know the story, I wouldn’t worship such an entity if it did exist.

    Re; nuclear power sites. I think the scientists of the world get together and demand a searching public evaluation of the emergency protocols currently in place. I’m sure everyone here knows there are thousands of tons of spent fuel stored in cooling tanks in the U.S. alone. If power fails to the pumps cooling the spent fuel, diesel engines kick in and run until their tanks are empty. If diesel fuel becomes unavailable, maybe because of economic breakdown, staff not being paid, how will those pumps be kept going for the decades ahead? There are about 5 reactors more or less upwind of Guy’s mud house property.
    This has probably been well covered here before now. I’m just challenging scientists to come to the plate for the sake of the world.

  • Massive New Radiation Releases Possible from Fukushima … Especially If Melted Core Materials Hit Water

    Kathy

    Most unsettling. And the point you brought up earlier concerning the grid and solar flares in the next couple years, and one of the consequences of that as addressed by Mike Adams of Natural News in this article makes Fukushima small potatoes if the grid ever comes down:

    http://www.naturalnews.com/033564_solar_flares_nuclear_power_plants.html

  • Victor, that’s an excellent link and I don’t think it even mentions the spent fuel storage (which supplies so much of the Fukushima radiation)

    Does anyone here know what a large solar emission such as the “Carrington event”
    http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2011/03/110302-solar-flares-sun-storms-earth-danger-carrington-event-science/
    would do to electric motor windings? Imagine what would ensue if the starter motors on all internal combustion engine were fried!
    Maintenance crews wouldn’t be able to get out to repair the electrical grid. Delivery of oil products to nuclear plants would be interrupted.
    The back-up cooling pump engines would not start.

  • Seems to me the faulty logic that Dawkins, Dennet, et al try to foist on the unsuspecting public goes something like this:

    We will examine two ideas, A (creationism) and B (evolution) which are mutually exclusive.

    Idea A does not satisfy the rules and methods by which idea B was formulated so idea A is found to be untrue.

    It therefor follows that idea B is found to express complete truth and that only those rules and methods used to formulate it are valid.

    Tamnaa

    Thanks for the name explanation. ‘Procrastination’ fits me as well…. 😉

    I agree in essence with what you pose, and that is indeed the way the evolutionary evangelists pose the issue. On a different level, however, the pro-designer would say that the collected scientific data points are simply connected in a different way favouring Design, as opposed to Evolution. Few informed people will deny the data – what they have a problem with is the interpretation of that data and the model into which it is to fit. The interpretation is the faith part, and the more consistent they see the interpretation of the data with the model, the more that faith grows.

    As for your suggestion that there might be more than A or B, not sure I understand that fully, as I have always seen the issue as an either/or proposition – things came about on their own, or they were created (designed). What would be the in-between, or alternative, that you speak of?

  • Tamnaa

    I am no expert, but my limited understanding is that a solar flare will produce a huge electro-magnetic spike which would cause an electrical surge that would overpower any transformer on the grid that did not have some sort of appropriate surge protection built-in. People can correct me if I am wrong here, but such a surge would be effective only on a running engine, such as a car running along the motorway. The surge would overpower the electrical system, buring out all electrical components (and all cars are little more than computers today!) permanently.

    In the case of grid transformers, these would experience such a surge and be rendered totally inoperable. Transformers are major pieces of equipment that require months of production and therefore cannot be readily replaced. If all transformers were hit, the grid would be out for years – indeed, since the plants making the transformers require electricity, they would be inoperable as well. So welcome to the instant Stone Age. As for nuclear plants, even if the trucks were running to provide the diesel, supplies would quickly run out as all diesel pumps would be rendered useless without the grid.

    There is no doubt in my mind that we would have a global catastrophe beyond our imagination. Even if only one hemisphere were affected it would effectively destroy the globalised supply chain instantly. There would be no recovery – ever. Even those parts of the world unaffected (if there should be any) would be materially affected because the global supply chain is down. There would be extremely limited national or international communication because the satellite systems would be kaput and there would be no electricity in the affected areas.

    Talk about instant collapse of civilisation!

  • Victor, you’re right, of course:
    “Just because one believes that there was a creator does not force them to accept a young earth by any means, nor should an evolutionist assume that one who supports the creator position believes in a young earth by default.”

    And I didn’t mean to imply their mutual exclusion. However, in these parts (the Southern U.S.), the idea of a young Earth and a creator are almost required beliefs. From Texas to Georgia, the battle has been waging for decades now to rid the schools of evolution and replace it with creationism or the newer twist on the same theme: “intelligent design”.

    This area of the U.S. is almost exclusively evangelical Christian. Sure we have our token mosques and temples, but it’s actually written into the Arkansas constitution that atheists are not allowed to hold public office. It’s never been challenged in court – to my knowledge – because there’s never been any need. No one could ever hope to be elected if he or she weren’t a professing – and practicing – Christian.

    For most children in the south, their education is tainted with religious mysticism. As Kathy C pointed out, many, many have a magical understanding of the natural world, assured that “God is in control”. The consequence of all this is that when a person tries to warn about global warming, or peak oil, or overpopulation, it falls on uneducated, misinformed, and suspicious ears. Their preachers tell them to “simply trust God”. “Pray and all your problems will be solved”, etc. Science challenges that type of thinking and is therefore made out to be evil and anti-god.

    I know many good scientists who are believers in some form of God. They believe, as you describe, that they don’t understand everything but realize that ultimately, their acceptance of an all-powerful God/creator, can’t be in disagreement with the scientific world. Rather than being mutually exclusive, they are mutually inclusive. Unfortunately, any scientist in this area who tried to present that sort of “liberal, elitist” idea to a group of students would likely be run out of town.

    Those who aren’t Christian/religious in this part of the world may seem “dogmatic” but rather, at least from my viewpoint, they are rightfully defensive. If it weren’t for the protections of the federal courts, living in the U.S. south would be like living in a country ruled by the Christian Taliban. The limits to separation of church and state are tested almost daily.

    That bodes poorly for any sort of planning to mitigate the problems facing the world, and it is quite scary to think of what sort of scapegoating and religious cleansing will occur once the shit really starting hits the fan. (Seeing the beginnings of that already. e.g. illegal immigration, etc.)

    One final point. Obviously, there are an infinite number of unanswered questions – most of them will likely never be answered (unless of course, Christians are right and one day we actually get to stand in the presence of the creator and ask). I’m not sure you meant to imply otherwise, but after you get past the origin of the dust from which the universe formed and that first spark that led to life, the mechanics of evolution are thought to be pretty well understood. There is ample evidence supporting evolution including that which has occurred and been observed repeatedly over the last 100 years or so. We see evolution of bacteria daily (hence the rise of multi-drug resistant bacteria).

    This isn’t dogma, rather it’s understanding of the natural world similar to understanding global warming, peak resources, etc. Theory supported by multiple independent observations.

  • Victor,

    “Talk about instant collapse of civilisation!”

    Wouldn’t that be grand!

  • Victor [Nonetheless, the common charge levelled against many folks who believe there was a creator at work is that they also must, therefore, believe in a 6000 yr-old earth.] I am sorry but I have never seen anyone use that argument. Surely most atheists are sophisticated enough to know that more religions believe in a creator than Christianity and therefore have different timelines. Surely most atheists know that believers in a creator run from Diests to Hindus to Buddhists, to Christians who do not accept all the Bible as being historically or literally true. I have never seen that charge levelled. Perhaps you could point me to someone’s argument to that effect?

    However atheists will point out that there are some creation believer who also believe in a 6,000 year old earth and that they are particularly deluded.

    I do not believe there is or is not a creator of this universe. As I stated if there is a creator, he she or it is either impotent to manage the creation (and therefore irrelevant to me) or evil (and therefore not a being I could worship). Sorry I didn’t make that clear. Neither scientists or religious people can answer the first cause question. Its creators all the way down, big bangs all the way down or turtles all the way down https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Turtles_all_the_way_down but scientists are willing to peer as far down as they can, while creationist are not. Yet creationists are quite willing to use all the goodies scientists have created.

  • I’m not sure you meant to imply otherwise, but after you get past the origin of the dust from which the universe formed and that first spark that led to life, the mechanics of evolution are thought to be pretty well understood. There is ample evidence supporting evolution including that which has occurred and been observed repeatedly over the last 100 years or so. We see evolution of bacteria daily (hence the rise of multi-drug resistant bacteria).

    Dr. House

    Well…actually, I keep an open mind on that as well. I have never been convinced that the mechanisms of evolution have ever been scientifically explained. When you get into the literature, you are constantly hit with “It could have happened this way….”. or “This probably happened”, or one of my favourites, “The organism decided it needed wings so it developed them.” – or any off-shoot of that wording… I love it….they can’t explain how it happened, and they couldn’t possibly commit this action to a ‘designer’, so they are forced to say the creature decided to do this on their own…

    The evolution of bacteria represents a kind of evolution that I do understand and which I believe is firmly scientifically substantiated. In many circles it is called micro-evolution (adaptation to surroundings and prevailing conditions – moth in northern regions is white, in southern regions is brown, virus’s adapt to medicines, etc. – as opposed to macro-evolution (dog turns into cat, lizard decides to fly so turns into a bird, etc.). The one is scientifically observed, the other process is, at it’s core, completely unexplained if you remove all the “could’ve”s, “should’ve”s and “might’ve”s. It fits a preconceived model, but it fails the “it really happened that way and we can prove it” part.

    It takes great faith to believe a reptile somehow decided to fly and over generations finally succeeded to radically change his internal organ distribution, his muscle configuration, hollowed out his bones and grew wings and feathers. I have great admiration for anyone of such faith – they could probably move mountains!…. 😉

  • I’m not sure you meant to imply otherwise, but after you get past the origin of the dust from which the universe formed and that first spark that led to life, the mechanics of evolution are thought to be pretty well understood. There is ample evidence supporting evolution including that which has occurred and been observed repeatedly over the last 100 years or so. We see evolution of bacteria daily (hence the rise of multi-drug resistant bacteria).

    Dr. House

    Well…actually, I keep an open mind on that as well. I have never been convinced that the mechanisms of evolution have ever been scientifically explained. When you get into the literature, you are constantly hit with “It could have happened this way….”. or “This probably happened”, or one of my favourites, “The organism decided it needed wings so it developed them.” – or any off-shoot of that wording… I love it….they can’t explain how it happened, and they couldn’t possibly commit this action to a ‘designer’, so they are forced to say the creature decided to do this on their own…

    The evolution of bacteria represents a kind of evolution that I do understand and which I believe is firmly scientifically substantiated. In many circles it is called micro-evolution (adaptation to surroundings and prevailing conditions – moth in northern regions is white, in southern regions is brown, virus’s adapt to medicines, etc. – as opposed to macro-evolution (dog turns into cat, lizard decides to fly so turns into a bird, etc.). The one is scientifically observed, the other process is, at it’s core, completely unexplained if you remove all the “could’ve”s, “should’ve”s and “might’ve”s. It fits a preconceived model, but it fails the “it really happened that way and we can prove it” part.

    In all fairness, so does the Design side of things fail for much the same reason – it fits a preconceived model, but it fails the “it really happened that way and we can prove it” part.

    It takes great faith to believe a reptile somehow decided to fly and over generations finally succeeded to radically change his internal organ distribution, his muscle configuration, hollowed out his bones and grew wings and feathers. I have great admiration for anyone of such faith – they could probably move mountains!…. 😉

  • To all…apologies for the double post…I hit a key and suddenly there it was…

  • Victor:

    Life cycles per century.

    Bacteria many. Mammals, few.

    Over 4.5 billion years, everybody gets a lot of life cycles. Of course we can not personally see 4.5 billion years of evolution, but can gather evidence via geology, anthropology, chemistry, astronomy, biology, etc.

  • Yet creationists are quite willing to use all the goodies scientists have created.

    Kathy

    You seem to imply that 1) a scientist cannot be a creationist (or god believing person) and 2) creationists (god-believing scientists) have never contributed to science. Many people of many faiths have peered down as far as they could given the means available. Yes, they had a different frame of reference (first cause), but they nonetheless courageously and aptly forged new paths of science. The evolutionists is every bit as narrow, deciding from the outset to discount the possibility of a creator before pursuing their line of endeavour. Therefore, they are just as prejudiced in their findings.

    I might remind you that many of the major scientific discoveries of history were made by religious men and women of many faiths, each building upon the others’ work, as is the way with science. To say that a creationist is simply a ..well…scientific leech?….is not quite accurate, I think.

  • Victor,
    I misspoke as you correctly pointed out. I meant to say that the 6,000 year anti evolutionary creationist crowd are more than eager to use cell phones etc. and the other benefits of science.

    I did not say or mean to imply that a scientist could not be a creationist. I did not say or mean to imply that a creationist never contributed to science. Why would I say that when I know it is not true? I was addressing this statement [Nonetheless, the common charge levelled against many folks who believe there was a creator at work is that they also must, therefore, believe in a 6000 yr-old earth.] which I believe is false in that it is not a common charge because folks like Dawkins know better. But perhaps it seems like it is a common charge because people misspeak as I did above and in our minds think anti-evolutionary creationists rather than more common kind and use the word too loosely. Or perhaps it is because the 6,000 year old earth folks dubb themselves Creationists and the evolutionary scientists who believe in God do not use that term to describe themselves.

  • Victor I think we are arguing because of differences in definition. You are using I think a definition for creationism as believing in a creator.

    I think it is more commonly used in this more limited way as to also not believe in evolution.

    cre·a·tion·ism   
    1.
    the doctrine that matter and all things were created, substantially as they now exist, by an omnipotent Creator, and not gradually evolved or developed.
    2.
    ( sometimes initial capital letter ) the doctrine that the true story of the creation of the universe is as it is recounted in the Bible, especially in the first chapter of Genesis.
    3.
    the doctrine that God immediately creates out of nothing a new human soul for each individual born.

  • Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan was a physicist, and the youngest one who worked for the government, before becoming a rabbi and a distinguished Kabbalist.

    He explains that an “evening” to G_d is a “thousand ages”. An age is seven years. A day to G_d is a morning and evening, or two thousand ages = 14,000 years. For a “G_d” year multiply by 365.25. According to the Sefer HaTemunah, the age of the universe in G_d’s years is 49,000.

    Even though they claim to study the Bible, the folks who are unaware of the four levels of Bible study are actually ignorant of it. (THe four levels are peshat – directly stated, remez – hint or nuance, drash – implicit, derived or deeper meaning, and sod – hidden / unstated meaning.

  • Acknowledgement of a “G_d” is at variance with the Second Commandment. This is commonly interpreted as forbidding the making of a “graven image”. The word thus interpreted is “fesel.

    But “fesel” (פסל) means “incomplete” and the reference here is to the making of an incomplete representation. This not only includes the usual objects of stone, wood, metal, etc. but also concepts in cognition, an item routinely overlooked.

  • Within its frame of reference, the world in a dream is entirely real. Where did it come from? To the lucid dreamer, the question does not exist.
    In the “real” world, where did the world come from? To the “enlightened” person such a question does not exist.

  • Robin, I studied the Bible for half my adult life. I studied the works of a multitude of writers about God and the Bible. I studied it with great seriousness but with only one aim. That was to find a good god in the universe. This was not taken lightly for at one time in my life I was going to become a Lutheran Deaconess. It was wrenching to discover that no reasonable case could be made for a good god who is powerful enough to be the author of creation. And then I learned in Haiti that even a good that seemed obvious, saving lives, had in it the evil of overpopulation. It almost did me in as I fell into a deep depression. As I worked my way out of my depression, I studied the Bible page by page looking for falsehoods and contradictions. After disposing of about 100 randomly selected pages I had no need to go further. Once out of the religious mode I found that I could not believe that I had ever thought of the Bible as more than a mismash collection of human writings, some with more value than others but none with more value than other writings not considered sacred. It was a great freedom won through years of emotional and intellectual effort. I would never go back into any religious fold again. I suspect that 99% of former believers would also never go back. I think I could not even say I was a believer to save my life – and dog knows I might be burned on a stake when the crash comes for believers are fond of blaming unbelievers (gays, and believers of different sects or deities) for their misfortunes.

  • Kathy

    Point about creationist well taken….as you will recall, I qualified my use of the term early on along with using the term creator instead of God. On a scientific basis I use the term creator in a neutral sense without any reference to religion.

  • Surely most atheists know that believers in a creator run from Diests to Hindus to Buddhists

    Actually there ain’t no creator in all of Buddhism, all of Jainism, and in non-dual Vedantic Hinduism.

    Diamond Sutra – A New Translation by Alex Johnson, Chapter 14.
    Such a person will be able to awaken pure faith because they have ceased to cherish any arbitrary notions of their own selfhood, other selves, living beings, or a universal self. Why? Because if they continue to hold onto arbitrary conceptions as to their own selfhood, they will be holding onto something that is non-existent. It is the same with all arbitrary conceptions of other selves, living beings, or a universal self. These are all expressions of non-existent things.

  • Some of the feathered dinosaurs were capable of flight.

  • Kevin:

    Some observations after reading your excellent excerpt:

    –it’s possible that the singularity occurred in 1915, and not when Ray Kurzweil thinks it will. The mechanisms that have divorced the present from history are ignorance and denial, as you say, but also industrial warfare, the suddenly sharp-edged limits of the biosphere, 7 billion people on the planet all at once, and the accumulated algorithms of the last three centuries. All of these argue against history rhyming.
    –the good, clear, language you use is useful in getting standard ideas across to a receptive audience. I don’t think we’ve yet invented the language that can get ideas across to a non-receptive audience, but it’s worthwhile to continue working on it. Possibly Guy’s film series is an example of the rhetoric that might get through to university administrators and local politicians. It’s easier to deny reason than it is to deny image. No doubt the prohibition of graven images stems from this phenomenon.
    –Living in Entitlement World does not depend on having the materials and circumstances you think you’re entitled to. In fact, that world is strengthened by not having those things. Civilization could fall and Entitlement World could still exist, causing just as much misery as it causes now. I presume that humans will not give up magical thinking in the absence of an entertainment industry.

    Is there a chance you’ll make your book available on Kindle? It would be easier for us on the other side of the world to get it that way.

  • What a lively discussion! Victor, you asked; “– things came about on their own, or they were created (designed). What would be the in-between, or alternative, that you speak of?”

    Yes, there is another way of explaining existence which, although it has by no means been confined to Asia, is usually referred to as “Eastern Traditions”
    By the way, I don’t personally subscribe to any particular organized belief system. The following is just what I have gathered.

    Both Abrahamic theism and scientific materialism perceive a physical objective cosmos and anxiously concern themselves with survival in it (and beyond it), either by pleasing the creator or by finding ways to take and make anything thought to be desirable.

    In the Eastern view, the universe doesn’t so much “exist” but it is being experienced. The emphasis, then, is on the “experiencer”; consciousness itself.
    Consciousness is not viewed as a property of the individual body/brain.
    The sensory inputs, the emotional responses, the mental processing that happen are all part of the experience, while consciousness is timeless, non-local and still. There are many seemingly separate objects, bodies, minds in the ever changing experience, but consciousness is one, transcending all boundaries.

    Now, here is where it becomes relevant to our discussion: consciousness is understood to generate experience. My homespun way of expressing this idea is that you and I and everything else together are just figments of the imagination. Not, of course, my imagination or your imagination, but the great universal imagination which some call Spirit and others call God but which many others think of as “emptiness” or “Buddha mind”.

    the Abrahamic God is a powerful entity separate from ourselves who is thought to have created the physical cosmos at one time in the past. The Eastern concept is of an ever present principle of creation going on at the core of experience in the present moment.

    I just want to say a little about why I think this is important. It’s clear we humans need to adjust our relationship with the world around us.
    Here are three sketches of different modes of relationship:

    Let’s think of a tribe of theists encountering a small forested mountain. To them, this mountain belongs to their god and they should do something with it to please this god and thus be rewarded with favor. So they build an ostentatious temple of some kind and people come for miles around to burn animals in sacrifice to this entity.

    Scientific materialists who encounter the mountain think of it as material, potentially yielding useful resources. For them, there is no god to fear, they can do whatever they want with it. Any life here is just chemical processes which happen without purpose or meaning. We humans will give meaning to this mountain by exploiting any opportunity we may find for extracting useful minerals etc. Soon we will see the mountain obliterated by a strip mining operation.

    When a person centered in consciousness visits the mountain, her experience is one of delight and awe at just exactly how things are in the moment. Her response to this beauty and the feeling of empathy and communion with all life that she experiences here is perfectly rewarding.
    To disturb this place in exchange for paltry reward from some god or other, or for wealth from the marketplace would be a foolish trade indeed and entirely unthinkable.

    Rational thinking is useful, but it isn’t adequate in itself to solve our problems. I think it is possible, though, that humanity is groping toward consciousness and that many will find it. The deep feeling of respect for all existence and sense of the sacred that we will discover at the core of experience, will profoundly alter human behavior for the better.
    That’s my hope, anyway.

    I have no idea whether what I have just written will be intelligible to anyone but…. hoping for the best and clicking “submit” 🙂

  • Victor.

    ‘It takes great faith to believe a reptile somehow decided to fly and over generations finally succeeded to radically change his internal organ distribution, his muscle configuration, hollowed out his bones and grew wings and feathers. I have great admiration for anyone of such faith’

    This is a total misunderstanding/misinterpretation of the mechanism of evolution.

    There is considerable variation between individuals of most species, including humans, i.e. different body shapes, colourings, proportions of limbs to torso etc. Some people have long, thin fingers; others have short, thick fingers.

    Sometimes, during replication, defective copying produces an individual very different from the norm: humans almost completely covered in hair or exceptionally tall or exceptionally short are obvious examples. Such individuals normally have no biological advantage over ‘average’ specimens of the species. However sometimes they may, and if the right ‘bottleneck’ conditions arise a new species may arise.

    Going back tp your reptile to bird example, it is conjectured that a mutation in lighweight ground-living dinosaur generated an individual that had a biological adavantaged in feeding on low-flying insects (we were not there so we are forced to use the word conjecture) by jumping into the air. Webbing between digits might well have been mal-adaptive in different ecological niche, but in that niche it provided a reproductive advantage. It follows that those individuals that had a lighter bone structure and more webbing were more successful at catching and eating airborne prey.

    If one wishes to look for evidence for creation or a creator, the most compelling is that all the factors in the universe need to be at exactly the values they have for us to exist….. that’s gravity, magnetism, electircal forces, electron cloud interactions of atoms…. absolutely everything. For instance, if it were not for the fundamantal ‘rules’ of chemistry, water would not exist in three phases within the temperature range of this planet. Superficially, H2O, with a molecular mass of 18, should be a very lightweight gas that drifts off into the upper atmosphere. Also, without oxygen having the exact chemical properties is has, the Earth would be bombarnded by intense and highly damaging UV which would make most of it uninhabitable.

    I am still looking for answers on that stuuf: it would be great topic for a new book (which I have been asked to write but which I am setting aside for the moment in view of the planetary emergency we are facing).

  • Tamnaa.

    Just a quick response.

    ‘Rational thinking is useful, but it isn’t adequate in itself to solve our problems.’

    We are currently governed by people who are apparently incapable of rational thinking. They constantly implement policies that destroy the long term habitability of the Earth.

    If rational thinking had been applied a few decades ago -there were plenty of rational thinkers who were very vocal then- we would not be in the horrendous mess we are in now.

  • John.

    Thank you for the thoughts.

    You are not the first person to raise the matter of easier worldwide availability. I will look into it.

  • Kevin, I agree with what you are saying but I was unclear about why rational thinking is not enough.
    It is not only important to think rationally but to behave accordingly and I think that is the weak link.
    An overweight person, for example, may be fully aware and rational about the self-destructive consequences of over-eating but unable to resist the short-term gratification of “just one more”.

    In a fully consciousness state, the psychological hunger disappears. The agitated urge to consume (and this goes for the urge to compete with others) is replaced by feelings of peace and fulfillment.

    I see this as a more reliable way to alter our behavior.

  • Kevin/Kathy C.:

    There are mired more necessary conditions. All or most of the heavy elements are formed in supernova explosions. So we could only evolve on a planet of the right composition and at the right distance of a 2nd generation star of the right spectral class. This still has nothing to do with a creator. It only means we are the ones to write about it because we had all 10 million necessary conditions, while there are billions of combinations that fell one or more conditions short and did not evolve to tell about it.

    We are in the most general sense trying to explain the universe and our place or purpose in it. First there is no reason to think we have a purpose, however you may define it. Just ego getting in the way. Second if you posit a creator, then you have of course the question of who created the creator. The usual answer, is “the creator always existed”. My reply then is, the universe always exited. That includes prior to the big bang, if prior means anything. The terms creator or god add nothing to our understanding of the universe. They are superfluous. Any general attribute of a god can be just as well attributed to the universe.

    After that we are just talking about bogeymen in the dark. We really haven’t matured much in the last 100k years or so.

  • ..the universe always existed.

  • i’ve found this recent philosophy/science/religion discussion at times highly engaging, at other points a turn off. it does bring out absurdity to conjecture over the possibility/necessity of a ‘creator god’ like perhaps no other topic.

    victor, i think u’re being dogmatic in compartmentalizing ‘god’ from evolution in the sense that the validity of the ‘theory’ of evolution (which i accept) precludes the existence of a ‘creator’. my understanding is that evolution only pertains to scientific evidence pointing to a common origin for biological life and how from this origin it has wildly diversified over billions of years of random genetic mutation and ‘natural selection’ into the awesome spectacle observable today of billions of seemingly miraculously specialized species. it doesn’t explain how life originally came to be, although extremely wide speculation exists on the matter. i imagine there are quite a few ‘believers’ in evolution who are open to the idea that life could have originated from a ‘creator’. my understanding is that the conditions thought to be necessary for life to spontaneously occur from inanimate matter are virtually infinitely implausible. thus, the idea of a ‘creator’ is about as plausible as anything.

    surely u’re aware of ‘deism’, or the idea/’belief’ in a ‘creator’ who is no longer involved, sort of an originator to set everything in motion and then sit back and observe how things play out (or maybe ‘god’ ‘died’, leaving ‘his’ creation rudderless)?

    it burns me out to delve into such mysteries too deeply, and it ultimately seems a waste of time to speculate on unsolvable mysteries that aren’t relevant to practical concerns of survival. i’m glad kevin clarified victor’s misrepresentation of evolution. there is no ‘will’ involved, it’s all by chance.

    there are many scientific/mathematical concepts beyond my understanding, including detailed aspects of evolution, but in the broadest sense, it’s elegant (ingeniously simple). although my comprehension of science is limited, perhaps my ‘faith’ in what it can reveal re. our material existence is unlimited. otoh, my experience mirrors kathy’s re. having lost all faith in supposedly ‘divinely revealed’ dogma. no way can there exist an omnipotent virtuous creator, and religion in general all too often devolves into bs designed to control sheople, turn us into dogma addicts disinclined to independent critical thought or questioning of ‘authority’.

  • If one wishes to look for evidence for creation or a creator, the most compelling is that all the factors in the universe need to be at exactly the values they have for us to exist…..

    This still has nothing to do with a creator. It only means we are the ones to write about it because we had all 10 million necessary conditions, while there are billions of combinations that fell one or more conditions short and did not evolve to tell about it.

    The above two quotes are a nice introduction to The Anthropic Principle.

    the universe always exited. That includes prior to the big bang, if prior means anything.

    The idea of “prior” involves time. Both time and space had their origin in the “Big Bang”: therefore “prior” to the “Big Bang” is a conceptual projection of time outside its parameters and is meaningless.

    it burns me out to delve into such mysteries too deeply, and it ultimately seems a waste of time to speculate on unsolvable mysteries that aren’t relevant to practical concerns of survival.

    As long as the awareness is directed outwards, there are limitless phenomena and manifestations even in the one universe familiar to us. Wandering further afield in search of the limits is fuitle. Both Hindu and Buddhist cosmology acknowledge not just the known universe, but an infinitude of universes beyond our ken. Seeking the source of it all by directing the awareness inward towards itself is described as stirring the funeral pyre with a stick: when all else is afire, the stick itself (the perception of “I-ness”) is cast into the fire and then nothing remains but objectless awareness.

  • Kevin

    I think you to be one of the most intelligent and insightful contributors here (and there are many!), and please do not take offence at this, but what you are saying about the bird example is itself an excellent example of how evolutionists muddle thought and precise meanings when they attempt to communicate these things.

    Going back tp your reptile to bird example, it is conjectured that a mutation in lighweight ground-living dinosaur generated an individual that had a biological adavantaged in feeding on low-flying insects (we were not there so we are forced to use the word conjecture) by jumping into the air. Webbing between digits might well have been mal-adaptive in different ecological niche, but in that niche it provided a reproductive advantage. It follows that those individuals that had a lighter bone structure and more webbing were more successful at catching and eating airborne prey.

    First, ‘it is conjectured’. Exactly! It is conjectured. Think about what you just said. This is not a defined and observed process we are talking about here. Indeed, mutations are nearly always disadvantageous to the organism, so the probability that the organism is damaged through mutation is far more likely than the opposite. And yet, the evolutionist expects people to fully accept at face value their ‘conjectures’ as tantamount to physical law. Indeed, these ‘conjectures’ are so enmeshed and so ubiquitous with the ‘scientific’ literature concerning evolutionary processes that people virtually have come to ignore the serious implications of what they are saying. Thus, evolution has now taken on the universal status of ‘scientific law’ in most areas of science. Just because we can conjecture, does not mean at all that the subject of that conjecture is true, or even reasonable when the light of detailed analysis is shown on it.

    Further, ‘light-weight ground-living dinosaur’ – what people fail to understand here is that upon deeper analysis, it is shown that it is not just light-weight that eventually makes a bird: it is a totally different skeletal structure – virtually hollow bones (actually, more like millions of holes in the bones making them of a honeycomb-like structure! So he went after low-flying insects and continually jumping into the air, he developed feathers, wings, hollow bones, different internal organs that are also distributed differently (the heart being enveloped by a surrounding liver as an example), etc – all necessary for being a true bird. I won’t even go into the issue of the beak and throat structures and the eyes, nor the ability to utter bird sounds. The point being, a LOT of things had to come together at the same time for a dinosaur to change into a bird. It takes far more than lightness and feathers.

    You have to reach pretty far to ‘conjecture’ that lightness and webbing led to a true bird. Of course, you might say that if there are billions of years for these things to come about, as Curtis suggests, why not? Because to be successful in an evolutionary way (natural selection and all that), the organism can not experience a time when he is at an disadvantage so half-birds are probably not going to make it. Besides the obvious advantage to fly and catch flying insects, what would cause the reptile to grow honeycombed bones and wings and the muscular structure peculiar to birds?

    You have to admit – the evolutionist has a lot of questions to answer, and the basic fact is that right now, they simply do not have those answers. But until they do, you will still see the word ‘conjecture’, ‘might’ve’, ‘could’ve’ and a thousand other ways to hide the real truth behind scientific sounding words and great authority.

    And therein lies the problem – they do not know but they want us to think they know.

  • ..the universe always existed.

    Curtis

    You sound pretty sure of yourself. How do you KNOW the universe has always existed? Indeed, by implication of your statement, how do you know there is only one universe?

    Perhaps it would be better if you prefaced that statement with something like “I believe…”?

  • my understanding is that evolution only pertains to scientific evidence pointing to a common origin for biological life and how from this origin it has wildly diversified over billions of years of random genetic mutation and ‘natural selection’ into the awesome spectacle observable today of billions of seemingly miraculously specialized species

    VT

    To be blunt your understanding is incorrect. The dyed-in-the-wool hardcore evolutionist seeks to explain not only the above, but how it all came into existence – origins. The whole point of evolution is to explain how the world we know today came about by known natural, mechanistic processes, preferably without injecting a need for a ‘creator’. You have many deists who accept the principles of evolution within their particular world view, but these deists are, in many cases, merely folding to the pressure of the scientific community.

  • As long as the awareness is directed outwards, there are limitless phenomena and manifestations even in the one universe familiar to us. Wandering further afield in search of the limits is fuitle. Both Hindu and Buddhist cosmology acknowledge not just the known universe, but an infinitude of universes beyond our ken. Seeking the source of it all by directing the awareness inward towards itself is described as stirring the funeral pyre with a stick: when all else is afire, the stick itself (the perception of “I-ness”) is cast into the fire and then nothing remains but objectless awareness.

    There is a lot of truth here. And though it is perhaps futile to ‘wander further afield’, I am compelled to ask the question – Then why is it so bloody important to so many to explain origins? Especially scientists? And to those who so readily accept the ‘scientific’ view? I think I might know the answer to that, but it lies in the philosophical region, not at all the scientific.

  • And yet, the evolutionist expects people to fully accept at face value their ‘conjectures’ as tantamount to physical law.

    Correction – I intended to say instead,

    And yet, the evolutionist expects people to fully accept at face value their ‘conjectures’ as tantamount to irrepressible, irresistible, inevitable physical law, thus taking something that has no more probability associated with it than Kathy’s elephants supporting the earth, and turning it into a pre-determined law of nature.

  • Curtis you wrote [First there is no reason to think we have a purpose, however you may define it. Just ego getting in the way.] Very good point. I think the problem with purpose or meaning is perhaps even deeper than ego. I think that to believe we have no purpose, our lives have no greater meaning, is worse than death for most people or is the ultimate death. It is perhaps why religions were created. It answers not the “how” of our existence but the “why” and would seem to require somebody to imbue our lives with purpose. Arising from a mindless process, you might say an accidental process, leaves us floundering about. Many non-religious beliefs try to define some purpose for us – for instance that we are the stepping stone to evolution’s next jump or some such thing.

    Yet we humans are living as if our species has no purpose beyond extincting themselves and other species, in many cases because other “purposes” have been adopted.

    Still it is possible to live life well without believing your life has some ultimate purpose, and just inserting little “purposes” such as bringing happiness today to someone you love. But I suspect that letting go of the idea of ultimate purpose is harder than letting go of god and intricately connected to a belief in god.

    Nothing in the way I have lead my life has changed since jettisoning god. Nothing has changed since giving up the self important idea that I am here for a reason. Well one thing has changed, I am happier (and have more time on Sunday mornings)

  • Rational thinking is useful, but it isn’t adequate in itself to solve our problems. I think it is possible, though, that humanity is groping toward consciousness and that many will find it. The deep feeling of respect for all existence and sense of the sacred that we will discover at the core of experience, will profoundly alter human behavior for the better.

    Tamnaa

    So true. And not simply a respect for all existence, but also a working with it in harmony, contributing to as well as taking from. Unfortunately, we seem to be rapidly losing our ‘sense of the sacred’, divorcing ourselves from the natural world, losing spirituality, further eroding what it is to be human and humane.

    I am not as optimistic about our direction as a species, I fear.

  • Victor [Kathy’s elephants supporting the earth,] no no no, please read more carefully. NOT ELEPHANTS, TURTLES. I subscribe to Turtalism not Elephantism. These distinctions are VERY important much like does the wine become the blood or represent the blood. 🙂

    for one of the ultimates in Christian hair splitting see the Atanasian Creed

    http://www.ccel.org/creeds/athanasian.creed.html
    a snippet – people were killed over such distinctions so it is important to get it right.

    8. The Father uncreated, the Son uncreated, and the Holy Spirit uncreated.

    9. The Father incomprehensible, the Son incomprehensible, and the Holy Spirit incomprehensible.

    10. The Father eternal, the Son eternal, and the Holy Spirit eternal.

    11. And yet they are not three eternals but one eternal.

    12. As also there are not three uncreated nor three incomprehensible, but one uncreated and one incomprehensible.

    13. So likewise the Father is almighty, the Son almighty, and the Holy Spirit almighty.

    14. And yet they are not three almighties, but one almighty.

    15. So the Father is God, the Son is God, and the Holy Spirit is God;

    16. And yet they are not three Gods, but one God.

  • NOT ELEPHANTS, TURTLES. I subscribe to Turtalism not Elephantism.

    My most humble apologies….to you….to the Elephants….to the Turtles….all of you… 🙂